BY KIERAN McCARTHY
AND so the dual senior championship adventure begins this bank holiday Monday when Newcestown’s senior footballers take on Cork IT in the first round of the Cork SFC, in Brinny at 3.30pm.
With the hurlers having won the Cork PIHC last year, Newcestown are now a dual senior club – the only rural dual senior club in Cork. The footballers kick into action on Monday while the hurlers begin life as a senior club against St Finbarr’s in late May.
Marrying both the league and championship campaigns of both the club’s footballers and hurlers is a big ask, but, in Division 1 of the county football league, Newcestown have four wins from eight games to date, while the hurling team has played just three games in the hurling league with the bad weather being a factor.
The last few weeks has seen the focus on the footballers, who played three league games in two weeks – losing to Bishopstown (4-7 to 2-10) and Carbery Rangers (1-15 to 0-12) and beating O’Donovan Rossa (0-14 to 0-13).
‘There are big demands on the players,’ football manager Tom Wilson explained, ‘when you consider that out of a football panel of 30, 26 are dual players. Add in all the league games and then championship matches and you’re looking around the 35-game mark, and some of the players also play U21 with the club and with the county, so that’s a lot of games.’
Newcestown know little about Monday’s opposition CIT, and they have to plan without the injured trio of Eoin Kelly (hamstring), Darren Heffernan (bruised ribs) and Sean O’Donovan (broken finger).
‘We’ve been lucky in recent years that the football and hurling teams have never both lost in the first round together, so we’ll be looking to continue that,’ he said.
‘We always approach the championship with a focus on winning the first game to take the pressure off then. If we win on Monday then, apart from the South West U21 football final in a few weeks, hurling will take over to allow them get a few games in before they’re out in the championship.’
On the dual challenge facing Newcestown, chairman Don McSweeney said: ‘The new county board regulations will help as there won’t be any relegation this season and that’s a lot of pressure off the mentors and players.’
The winner of Newcestown v CIT meets the winner of Clonakilty v Castlehaven in Round 2A. The loser of Newcestown v CIT will play the loser of Aghada v Muskerry in Round 2B.